Thursday September 27, 2012

BOSTON ( AP) - Carlos Pena and Ben Francisco hit back- to- back, tape- measure homers in the fifth inning on Wednesday night to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to their seventh consecutive victory, 4- 2 over the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays remained 3 1 games 2 behind Baltimore for second place in the AL East. Tampa Bay began the day three games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot.

It was the final home game of the season for the Red Sox, and perhaps the last at Fenway Park for Boston manager Bobby Valentine. Hired to inspire a fractious clubhouse after the team went 7-20 last September under Terry Francona, Valentine instead presided over what could be the worst Red Sox team since 1965.

"When you don't accomplish what you set out to do, you don't feel like you've done a good job. Simple," Valentine said before the game. "When I come back next year, I'll think I'm prepared to handle it. Hopefully, we'll have better results."

"Not much I would have done differently, I don't think, other than I think would have kept the beer in the clubhouse. I think I could have used one after a few of those games," he said.

Alex Cobb ( 10- 9) allowed one run on three hits and a walk, striking out five in five innings as the Rays matched their longest winning streak of the season. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 45th save in 47 chances.

Jon Lester (9-14) gave up three runs on four hits and a walk, striking out five in six innings. He didn't allow a hit until Jeff Keppinger singled to left with one out in the fifth, then he gave up back-to-back home runs.

Pena hit his 19th homer, nearly hitting the back wall behind the seats in straightaway center field. Francisco hit another long homer, this one off a billboard above the Green Monster seats, to make it 3-1.